Students & Parents

6 Steps to Safe Computing at Penn

There are a few simple steps you can take to prevent viruses and hackers from taking over your computer. The 6 Steps To Safe Computing at Penn are compatible with Windows 7\8\10 and Mac OS X.


Step 1.  Run OS Updates

Windows 7: Click Start > Control Panel > System and Security > Windows Update > Select Check for Updates to search for new updates. If there are new updates, install them.

Windows 8: Windows key or Control+ESC type "windows update" > Settings > Windows Update

Windows 10: Click Start> Settings > Update and Recovery > Windows Update 

Mac OS X: Click the Apple Menu > Software Update


Step 2.  Set up a password on your system

A strong password should be 8-10 characters in length, should contain a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols, and should not contain any recognizable words or personal data. It is not a good idea to use the same password as your PennKey or email account.

Windows 7: Click Start > Control Panel > Administrative Tools > User Accounts and Family Safety > Underneath User Accounts click Change your Windows password > Create a password for your account

Windows 8: Windows key or Control+ESC type "password" > Settings > Change your password

Windows 10: Click Start > Settings > Accounts > Sign-in-options> Change your Password  

Mac OS X: Click the Apple Menu > System Preferences > Users & Groups> click your username in the left column and add a password or change a password.


Step 3.   Install up-to-date anti-virus software

The University offers, Symantec Endpoint Protection free to all students, staff and faculty. In order to download this software, please visit and authenticate with your PennKey and password. Be sure to enable automatic updates to receive the most up-to-date virus definitions.


Step 4. Disable file sharing

Downloading and distributing copyrighted material via file sharing programs like BitTorrent or Popcorn to stream movies is illegal. If you illegally file share, you will probably be caught. Don't take the risk.


Step 5.  Bring your original software media and product keys

"Original Software Media" refers to the CDs or DVDs that came with your computer--Windows CDs, Office CDs or download links. If you do not have software media make sure that you know where to download the software you need and make sure you have the product keys for the software. If something goes wrong with your computer, you'll need your original media and corresponding product keys to get it fixed.


Step 6.  See an ITA if you need help

If you need help with your computer, find an ITA in your College House's computer lab or submit a request for help here on our website. ITAs can check your computer to make sure that you are safe and secure!


Another source of information is "Safeguarding your Electronic Data, Resources, Privacy and Rights in the University Environment: The Guide to Information Security."